KINGSFORD – Ishpeming’s Lola Korpi hadn’t lost in the 800, 1,600 or 3,200 at the last two Upper Peninsula Division 2 Finals. The same was true for West Iron County’s Danica Shamion in the 100, 200 and 400.
With that kind of track record, the expectations were through the roof Saturday.
“There’s so much pressure,” the Ishpeming junior said. “People do expect a champion out of me; it gets really hard mentally, there's a lot of pressure on me all the time. But I love to do this. I just love running so much. So I just go out there and do what I can, just do the best I can do.”
Her best continues to be really good.
Korpi won all three of the distance events again, plus she was a member of the first-place 3,200 relay team, which gave her 11 career championships. Shamion, meanwhile, won all of the dashes again as well.
“It’s been a good day, just really hot out,” Shamion said.
Korpi defeated some talented young runners. Pickford freshman Talya Schreiber took second in the 1,600 and 3,200, and Manistique sophomore Leah Goudreau was runner-up in the 800.
“I was challenged on all of them,” Korpi said. “It’s my 200 kick at the end that gets it. Now that I’m a junior I have a lot of experience against all the fast freshmen this year. So I just let them take the lead for a little bit while I coast behind them and then kick it in at the end. Or depending on how I feel, maybe I’ll just go out there right away.”
Her 3,200 relay team, also including Tiana Bosworth, Brittanie Piotrowski and Kadie Kaukola, was down by 200 meters with Hancock in front of them.
“I got the baton and I was just feeling great. I went out and beat her,” Korpi said. “That started the whole team out with a good chunk of points.”
Shamion now has nine individual titles.
She said the 400 dash was her best event of the day. She broke her own Upper Peninsula Division 2 Finals record with a time of 57.18 seconds; she had set the record at 58.77 last year.
“I PR’d by a second, which I really wanted to, so I’m glad,” Shamion said.
Her goal was to finish that race in 56 seconds.
“I was so close,” she said. “But I’m happy I took my own record that I had.”
Shamion also set a UPD2 Finals record in the 200 with a time of 26.34 seconds. Norway’s Dani Gagne had the previous record (26.42).
Shamion almost won four events. Teammate Calli Pellizzer won the high jump in a tiebreaker as both cleared 4 feet, 10 inches.
“Someone from my team won, good for my team,” Shamion said.
The Wykons finished in fourth place with 73 points.
Bark River-Harris repeated as team champ after winning for the first time in school history last year. The Broncos had 100 points, 13 better than runner-up Ishpeming and 24 ahead of third-place Manistique.
Gwinn’s Lena Pleaugh placed first in both of the hurdles events; she was the 100 champion for the second year in a row.
Pickford’s Kadence Potoczak won discus in Division 2 after earning the UPD3 title last year, Manistique’s Danielle Lund won the shot put, Ishpeming’s Mya Hemmer the long jump and St. Ignace’s Avery Visnaw the pole vault.
The Emeralds won the 400 relay (Emma Jones, Lund, Kelsey Muth and Leah Goudreau), and BR-H won the 800 relay (Mckenzie Hoffmeyer, Lauren Zawada, Julia Olson and Marissa Ives) and 1,600 (Juliian Koch, Julia Nault, Zawada and Olson).
PHOTOS (Top) Bark River-Harris's Lauren Zawada hands off to the fourth leg of their 1,600 relay, Julia Olson, on Saturday. (Middle) West Iron County's Danica Shamion starts her winning 400. (Below) Manistique's Leah Goudreau, left, and Ishpeming's Lola Korpi run the first lap of the 800. (Photos by Cara Kamps/RunMichigan.com.)
BLISSFIELD – Last fall, June Miller raced for an MHSAA cross country title at Michigan International Speedway. During the winter she played in the Division 3 Basketball Final at the Breslin Center. In the spring, she competed at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 track & field championships in Kent City.
As she embarks on her senior year at Blissfield Community Schools in southeast Michigan, Miller isn’t concerned about an encore.
“I don’t worry about topping my junior season,” she said. “I don’t feel the need to. I’ll fight for it to the best of my ability, but if I don’t make it that’s okay. There were a lot of factors that went into last year, and I can’t control all of them this year.
“I’ll leave my best out there and know that I gave it my all, and in the end that’s the true accomplishment. If it takes me that far or further, then great. If not, that’s okay.”
Miller’s remarkable run to MHSAA Finals in three sports remains even more impressive when considering she had eight goals and five assists playing defense for the Royals soccer team.
“Shows up to work, busts her tail every practice, every game,” said Blissfield girls basketball coach Ryan Gilbert. “Never have to worry about June Miller.”
Miller is as steady an athlete as they come, never getting too high or too low in pressure situations. In basketball, Gilbert said Miller never met a shot she didn’t like. Miller started all 29 games last season, leading the team in 3-pointers.
Gilbert said Miller is even-keeled.
“It takes a while to get into the ‘June Miller circle,’ but I’m almost in,” he said. “This is her senior year; this is my year. She’s very funny when you get to know her and has a brilliant mind.
“She wants to win over everything,” Gilbert said.
Miller wasn’t the fastest runner on the cross country team last fall – that spot would belong to her younger sister, Hope. June has no problem with that.
“I love running with my sister,” she said. “She’s an amazing and incredibly kind person. Her dedication to running inspires me and keeps me fighting for it. We train together sometimes and she’s the one that pushes me, and I love that.
“I always knew she’d be faster than me someday, and I couldn’t be prouder of how fast she’s become and how much she’s achieved. (People might) think I’d hold some resentment for her beating me while I’m older, but she’s lived in my shadow for years and I’m so glad she’s been able to find her place that she can dominate.”
Blissfield is eyeing a big season in cross country after winning a Regional and just missing the top 10 at the Final a year ago. The Miller sisters are a big reason for the giddiness.
“I’m ready to leave it all out there,” Miller said. “It’s my senior season, and I want to go out strong. I think the end goal for all of us is to really push it this season and improve with each race so by the time we hit Regionals we’re in the best shape physically and mentally so we can leave it all on the course to get to states again.”
Because of her work schedule this summer, Miller missed some of the team workouts but was able to get the details from her sister and went out on her own time and trained to build up her mileage in preparation for the season.
“I think the experience from last year will give us something to fight for,” she said. “It allows us to look at the season with our end goal being the state meet. It gives us a passion and something to fight for.”
Blissfield cross country coach Ryan Bills called Miller a strong competitor.
“She is fun kid,” he said. “You never know which June you’re going to get – funny, chatty June or serious, no-nonsense June. Either way she always gives it her all during competition, which is why she has seen so much success the past year.”
The four-sport athlete spent the first couple of weeks of summer refreshing her body before kicking it into high gear.
She did take some time to reflect on all the places she got to play and compete last year and is grateful to be part of a team that helped her reach those places.
“It was a unique experience,” she said. “When I’m playing basketball or running track and cross country, I’m not focused on where I am physically – instead I’m in my head focused on what I need to do.
“Once you get to someplace, you stop thinking about getting there and you move on to the next step of being there and doing what you need to there.”
Miller is one of the top students in her class. She’s currently trying to decide whether she wants to pursue playing soccer in college. She wants to major in business and minor in sustainability, eventually getting a master’s degree in architecture.
“I want to be a sustainable design architect,” she said, “who can better the world through the art of architecture.”
Miller’s future looks bright, as does the outlook for this athletic year. In all three sports for which she reached the Finals last year, the Royals have enough returning talent to make lengthy runs again.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Miller said, about four days before the first cross country event of the season. “I want to make it to all those state tournaments again, but I want to do it with my teammates because they’re the ones that make it memorable and something to remember forever.”
Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Blissfield’s June Miller (750) races during a cross country meet last fall. (Middle) Miller pulls up for a jumper during last season’s basketball postseason run. (Cross country photo by Deloris Clark-Osborne; basketball photo by Gary Sullivan.)